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I'm from europe and I want to do a roudtrip thorugh California and national parks which are closeby.

I know, that every national park and every bigger city has it's own "vibe". But to take the most out of a trip I have to ponder where I want to go and how long I should stay.

I have chosen three bigger cities:

  • Los ANgeles (begin and end)
  • Las Vegas
  • San Francisco

The total duraiton of the trip will be about 20 days. The route by now is:

1st day: Arring in LA
2nd day: Full day in LA where we are getting our car.
3rd day: Driving to Joshua Tree National Park (Twentynine Palms, CA) and visit the NP
4th day: Driving to Williams, AZ thorugh the Route 66
5th day: Visiting to Grand Canyon, afterwards driving to Page, AZ (near Antelope Canyon)
6th day: Maybe Antelope Canyon in the morning and horseshoe Bend, then driving to Bryce Canyon sleeping in Panguitch, UT
7th day: From Brye Canyon to Zion National Park and sleeping in Springdale, UT
8th day: Visiting Zion NP afterwards driving to Las Vegas.
9th day: Full Day in Las Vegas
10th day: driving through Death Valley, sleeping in Beatty, NV
11th day: driving to Yosemite National Park, sleeping in (June Lake, CA)
12th day: driving to Lake Tahoe and sleeping in South Lake Tahoe, CA
13th day: from Lake Tahoe to San Francisco
14th day: Exploring San Francisco
15th day: Exploring San Francisco
16th day: Exploring San Francisco
17th day: Driving from SF to Monterey (looking for whales)
18th day: From Monterey to Pismo Beach (Not sure through Highway 1 or Highway 101)
19th day: Pismo Beach to LA
20th day: from LA back home with the flight

I want to get the most out of the route, so my questions are:

  • Is there anything that I missed on the route?
  • Is the stay in SF too long?
  • Are there any insider tipps for other sleeping points?

Any reponse will appreciated Thanks in advance

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    @others Given that the route is given, is it still too broad? So much to see there that the most important points would be too much? – Thorsten S. Apr 9 '17 at 15:26
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    That schedule looks crazy to me. Cut it by half (but leave yourself three days in SF). – TonyK Apr 9 '17 at 22:14
  • I can't find a route from Beatty to June Lake, or June Lake to Lake Tahoe, that so much as passes through the interesting parts of Yosemite and takes less than twelve hours of driving. – Mark Apr 10 '17 at 3:33
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Seems aggressive to me. That's about 4000 km and 45-50 hours of raw driving depending on whether you go for "scenic" or "fast". Distances are much larger than most Europeans are used to. Traffics is also a bit slower (lots of traffic jams, low speed limits) and the roads through the Mountains or along the Pacific coast are beautiful but slow.

The national parks are also fairly big and so trying to "do" them in half a day isn't really not doing them justice other than getting the "check mark". Consider a sequence of maybe alternating "one day drive" with "two days exploring". You won't get as many locations covered, but you may have a much better experience over all.

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    Lots of traffic jams? Where? – user13044 Apr 9 '17 at 13:28
  • @Tom: LA, Silicon Valley, San Fran. I recently was stuck for over an hour between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara around midnight. – Hilmar Apr 9 '17 at 18:01
  • @Hilmar yes it's about 3200 km from city to city. But It's very hard to really say which one I should cancel. Yes every NP and city has it's own "vibe" that's what i meant, but which doesn't deserve a visit? Its clear to me that everyone has it's own preferences, but like Thorsten S. commented, is it too broad? Yes every NP is huge, but I think with this route I can see the main points of mostly every NP listed, don't you think? – simon Apr 9 '17 at 18:12
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    I would suggest on day 18 you consider using California Rt 1 instead of 101. I consider 1 to be the Amalfi Drive of the USA. Halfway between Monterey and Pismo Beach consider a stop and rest at Hearst Castle in San Simeon. As you seem to be interested in the great parks of the West, perhaps a 1/2 day trip out of San Francisco to Muir Woods. The latter is one of my favorite places in the world. Where you can have your Entmoot. – copleysquare Apr 9 '17 at 19:15
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    @simon, your route won't let you hit the main points of many of the parks. Yosemite Valley is almost a day away from your proposed route. Half a day won't get you to the Narrows or Angels Landing in Zion. There's far more to Death Valley than just Badwater. The two most popular places in Bryce are know as "Sunset Point" and "Sunrise Point" for a reason. If I were doing this, I'd split it up into two vacations: a "California" vacation hitting the big cities plus Death Valley and Yosemite, and a "South Utah" vacation hitting the parks in southern Utah and northern Arizona. – Mark Apr 10 '17 at 7:18

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